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Re: “Boycott Canada” by Mandy Gardner, v14 i11 (2006-03-24)

I first want to state that I think Mandy Gardner’s article is well-written and well-needed. Every year, there is the issue of the annual seal hunt, with the cruelty, mass slaughter, blood, killing, etc. of baby seals. However, much of the world, and even Canada, have the wrong impression of the annual seal hunt. I would like to provide the truth, as objectively as possible, behind most of the misconceptions that the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and others put forth. Most of these misconceptions are described in a CBC news story and web pages of the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). They include: .

1) “Seals are clubbed” – In Newfoundland, seals are not clubbed. They are killed with guns. In Qu?bec’s lower north shore, clubs or hakapiks are used, and have been shown to instantly and humanely kill a seal (DFO, March 17, 2006).

2) “Seals are skinned alive” – The seals are not skinned alive, despite a report from the IFAW. [Of note, many of the IFAW’s reports have been found to be fabricated, such as the report that a chef in New York has boycotted Canadian seafood (editor’s note: source of comment unverified at press time).] The seals may appear to be alive while skinned, but this is due to their nervous system and a swimming reflex (DFO, March 22, 2006).

3) “Seals are killed to preserve fish populations” – The seal cull is an economic activity and way of life. Seals eat more than one type of fish. Many people have blamed seals for the reduction in cod stocks in Newfoundland. However, scientific reports state that over-fishing was the main cause of this reduction in cod stocks (Winters as cited in Hutchings et al, 1997, pp. 1200-1201).

4) “Seals are hunted solely for the fashion industry” – While the IFAW claims that seals are hunted solely for fashion, why did they insist Costco take seal oil pills off their shelves? Though it is true that many seals are killed for fashion, others are hunted for food and clothing (not necessarily fashionable clothing) (DFO, March 28, 2006).

To some, the seal hunt looks barbaric. Of course, hunting anything can look barbaric. The unsightly pools of blood and carcasses covering the white ice look barbaric. So does the slaughter of cows, chickens, and lamb look barbaric, but we do not see this displayed on our televisions. Nor, are these animals as cute as the cuddly, glossy eyed, sad looking seals. What about other mass slaughters? Why are celebrities and the IFAW not concerned with the massive shrimp, crab, and lobster fishery? Millions are killed every year, while their populations are depleting. Do they not deserve attention? Are they not suffering when they are dumped, alive, in boiling-hot water? Are their shells and innards not tossed in the garbage dumps to rot? But then, they are not cute. Simply put, if seals were ugly, who would care?

Another point to note is that when I eat seal meat or use seal oil, I need not think of any part of the environment that was damaged to get this seal. When I eat beef, however, I need to think of the hundreds of acres of habitat that was destroyed to raise the animal used solely for human needs. Not that I am against beef.

I am not trying to convince others that the seal hunt is right. I am simply trying to convince others to look at the issue objectively. I do not agree with a massive seal hunt solely for the purpose of the fashion industry. I do, however, agree with the seal hunt for providing an income to those who desperately need it and have depended on this hunt all of their lives. I agree with the hunt if it provides food and clothing to those who need and depend on it.

So, I would not deprive myself of seafood through a boycott. Seafood is very healthy and nutritional. I would further research a controversial topic. I would not believe everything posted on the Internet. If I were still not satisfied, then I would protest in other ways, such as writing a letter or a petition. Just a thought.

Leanne Elson
Goose Bay, NL

References

Canada. Department of Fisheries and Oceans (2006, March 17). Seals and sealing in Canada: Atlantic Canada seal hunt, myths and realities. Retrieved from http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/seal-phoque/myth_e.htm.

Canada. Department of Fisheries and Oceans (2006, March 28). Seals and sealing in Canada: Frequently asked questions about Canada’s seal hunt. Retrieved from http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/seal-phoque/faq_e.htm.

CBC news staff (2006, March 20). The Atlantic seal hunt: FAQs [Frequently Asked Questions]. CBC News. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/sealhunt/.

Gardner, M. (2006, March 24). International Newsdesk: Boycott Canada. The Voice, 14. Retrieved from http://www.voicemagazine.org/archives/articledisplay.php?ART=4597&issuesearch=1411.

Hutchings, J.A., Walters, C., and Haedrich, R.L. (1997). Is scientific inquiry incompatible with government information control? Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 54: 1198-1210. Retrieved from http://www.watershed-watch.org/ww/publications/other/Scientific_Inquiry.pdf.

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